NASA via Giphy
Mars is not known for being a quiet, still place.
Dust storms, violent weather, and changing seasons mean it’s constantly in motion; in some ways, quite similarly to Earth.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
For a while, scientists thought that ripples on the Martian surface were simply a landform frozen in time, leftover by a past climate.
Okay, not with music, but they are in motion, migrating slowly across the landscape in response to wind.
But it wasn’t until more recently that we found out how widespread — and profound — their movements are.
In late 2021, a team of researchers reported in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets that they tracked megaripple movement on Mars’ north pole.
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.
The ripples seem to move most in the summertime on Mars, when seasonal winds kick up more sand.
“This enhanced activity is likely related to the greater sand fluxes found for neighboring dunes which are driven by summer-time seasonal winds when polar ice is sublimating.”
Matthew Chojnacki, study co-author
While there’s much interest in understanding Mars’ past through its static formations, landscapes like megaripples help researchers piece together new information about its present.
“This supports the idea that much of the Martian surface is actively being modified and not just ancient or static.”